The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It's free, fun, and easy-and it helps the birds."

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Winter Robins

amrobinIn the winter months you may wonder about the flock of robins landing in your yard: should they be this far north already, and should there be so many? Exploring the observations submitted to eBird from the northeastern states and southeastern provinces we can show that robins aren't commonly found, but when they are it's typically in flocks.

Two clear trends stand out when using eBird observations to explore robin sightings in the northeastern states and southeastern provinces. First, we see that the frequency of reports, or the percent of checklists reporting robins, is highest during the summer months, when the birds are breeding. Second, we see the average group size, or the number of birds counted on these reports, is lowest during the same time period.

This simply shows that when lots of people are seeing robins, they are only seeing a couple at a time. But when robins are found infrequently, the reports are typically of flocks.


What does this mean? During the breeding season robins are territorial, and spread themselves out across the landscape. You may only find a couple in your yard during this time, but it seems that no matter where you go you may run into robins. This means more checklists will include robins, but only a couple of individual birds will be counted: frequency will be high, but group size will be low.


In the winter, the birds are forming flocks. This means fewer people are finding robins, lowering the number of checklists that include them, but when they are seen the numbers will be much higher: frequency will be low, but group size will be high.

Learn how snow depth affects bird distribution, discovered using your observations.